SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker welcomed students back to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on Monday, finding time to highlight his administration’s investments into education.

“It’s been my mission as governor to make higher education more affordable for every Illinoisan, no matter their background. And I couldn’t be prouder to say we’re doing exactly that,” Pritzker said. “By restoring public funding directly to our universities, we’re eliminating the need for major tuition hikes, so students know what to expect semester after semester.”

Illinois’ FY24 budget includes an increase in funding for the Monetary Award Program to an all-time high, which ensures awards for all eligible applicants. This will allow free community college for all Illinois students at or below median income.

The Pritzker administration is also investing in higher education infrastructure, with campuses across Illinois seeing almost $2.8 billion dedicated to public universities and community colleges.

In addition, Pritzker ensured students of his intentions to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in Illinois.

“Here in the Land of Lincoln, our institutions will continue to be inclusive of all students, including those who have been historically left out of or locked out of postsecondary education,” Pritzker said. “To every single student: you are among the best of the best. And as your Governor, I’ll continue to have your back. I can’t wait to see all that you will accomplish.”